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Hawaii's Billy Kemper Claims Top Honor at WSL Big Wave Awards

The world's best big wave surfers gathered in Huntington Beach tonight for the 2017 World Surf League (WSL) Big Wave Awards. The gala ceremony at the Pasea Hotel and Spa awarded the greatest rides of the past year and celebrated the tenets of the big wave community.

Billy Kemper, Koa Rothman, Nathan Florence at the Big Wave Awards 2017. Billy Kemper with his Hawaiian cohorts Koa Rothman and Nathan Florence. WSL / Jimmy Wilson

This year's event saw $350,000 in prize money allotted across the seven categories. The top prize of $75,000 went to Hawaiian Billy Kemper, who walked away with the Billabong Ride of the Year, which is the night's top honor. Meanwhile, Ben Andrews racked up $50,000 for finishing second in the Ride of the Year balloting ($30,000), and winning the Biggest Paddle category ($20,000), and Francisco Porcella racked up $40,000 for finishing third in Ride of the Year ($15,000) and winning the Tag Heuer Biggest Wave Award ($25,000). Here's a complete list of Saturday night's big heroes.

And The Winners Are...

The Wave of My Life - Billy Kemper
2:34

Billabong Ride of the Year: Billy Kemper
Videographer: Etienne Aurelius

"This is a dream come true. First and foremost, I have to thank my beautiful fiancé for supporting me and giving me an amazing life with our children. Next, my sponsors, who have given me a platform to perform like this. I was just a kid from Maui, I had nothing at one point. This is all passion. I love to do this and nothing is going to stop me from this. This is for my mom."- Billy Kemper

Paddle Award: Ben Andrews
Photographer: Fred Pompermayer
Wave Size 53 feet

"I wasnt sure I'd be up here for this. All these waves look about as big as each other to me. Thanks WSL for giving me the nod...I'm proud and really honored. -- Ben Andrews

Ben Andrews strokes into a 53 footer at Mavericks. Ben Andrews WSL / pompermayer

TAG Heuer XXL Biggest Wave Award: Francisco Porcella
Photographer: Bruno Aleixo
Wave Size: 73 feet

"It's been a long time coming to be up here tonight. I've been putting in my time but mother nature rewarded me that day. With that wave. It is a blessing to be connected to mother nature and that power, it feeds us. We feel so alive and in the moment." -- Francisco Porcella

2017 Big Wave Awards Tag Heuer XXL Biggest Wave winner Francisco Porcella. Francisco Porcella WSL / Adrian Wlodarczyk

Women's Best Overall Performance Award: Paige Alms

"I am honestly in disbelief. To be amongst this group of women is just insane. I am super excited to see where they take the tour next year for the women. A huge shoutout to all the women that inspire me to do my best and continue to push the level of women's surfing and to be a better person, friend and athlete." - Paige Alms

2017 Big Wave Awards Women's Best Overall Performance winner Paige Alms. Paige Alms WSL / JP Van Swae
Big Love, Paige Alms
4:06
A video profile of Maui's incredible homegrown Big Wave World Champ.

Surfline Men's Overall Performance Award: Jamie Mitchell

"This really is dedicated to my wife and my little baby daughter at home. Thank you to everyone here. You all inspire me and push me to chase every swell and probably the ones that I shouldn't." - Jamie Mitchell

2017 Big Wave Awards Surfline Best Overall Performance winner Jamie Mitchell. Jamie Mitchell WSL / Jimmy Wilson
Jamie Mitchell Takes Control
4:09

TAG Heuer Wipeout of the Year Award: Wilem Banks
Videographer: Curt Myers

"I had no expectations of being up here. This is the most people I've ever spoken in front of, so another fear to get over…I hope I'm never here again." - Wilem Banks

Wilem Banks' Best Wipeout Winner
4:06

Tube of the Year Award: Shanan Worrall
Photographer: Jamie Scott

"Thanks Jamie Scott who took that photos, that's probably just lucky, because everyone got good waves that day." - Shanan Worrall

2017 Big Wave Awards Tube of the Year winner Shanan Worrall. Shanan Worrall WSL / Adrian Wlodarczyk
2017 Big Wave Awards Tube of the Year winner Shannon Worrall. Shannon Worrall WSL / Jimmy wilson
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